Industrial production was flat in February, according to the Federal Reserve Board, following a revised gain of 0.4 percent in January. Year-over-year growth is currently 4 percent. As we saw last month, manufacturing backed the larger trend by increasing 0.3 percent for the month. This is slower than the 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent gains, respectively, over the prior two months, but it still represents continued growth.
Manufacturing capacity utilization rose from 77.3 percent to 77.4 percent. Annual capacity utilization is slowly edging higher, up 1 percent since February 2011.
Fourteen of the nineteen manufacturing sectors experienced positive growth in production in February. The fastest growth occurred among fabricated metals (up 1.8 percent), electrical equipment (up 1.6 percent), aerospace (up 1.6 percent), petroleum and coal (up 1.4 percent) and nonmetallic minerals (up 1.2 percent). Conversely, slowing sectors included the following: primary metals (down 1.2 percent), motor vehicles (down 1.1 percent), chemicals (down 0.8 percent), apparel and leather (down 0.7 percent) and machinery (down 0.3 percent).
Non-manufacturing sectors did not see growth. Mining production has fallen the last two months, with utility production unchanged.
In order for us to see continued growth across all nineteen manufacturing sectors we need to see more favorably policies from Washington that will help businesses grow and expand.
Chad Moutray is chief economist, National Association of Manufacturers.